Tag Archives: Decline of the Church

We’re Moving From Acts 1 to Acts 2 (May 20, 2018)

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

  1. Church in North America in decline for 40+ years.
    1. LCM
      1. Decline last 10 years
      2. Gained 15 years prior
      3. Steady now
    2. Even with “flash in the pan” churches, reality is that fewer people are part of a church in Lakewood, and that number continues to decrease. Shows no sign of letting up.
    3. Everyone’s got a “Quick Fix!”
      1. More of this, less of that.
      2. Give people what they want to hear.
      3. Make people happy. Don’t make them uncomfortable.
      1. Not because we’re slacking off or caring less.
      2. Not because we aren’t putting in enough energy or commitment.
      3. Many of you are worn out from working so hard for the sake of Christ’s church.
    5. Reality is that the culture has simply changed too fast. Faster and faster. Church isn’t able to change as quickly. No let-up in sight.
      1. Our best efforts are not going to be enough.
      2. We can feel lost and helpless.
    6. Knowing we are baptized into Christ’s mission of loving the world as God loves it, knowing how important the purpose of the church is, yet realizing we can’t do it, we pray, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the church?” Take us back to our glory years?
  2. Acts and Pentecost
    1. Acts 2. (Pentecost text today) we know: fire, wind, HS, other languages, 3000 baptized. “Wow! Holy Spirit, do that!”
    2. Acts 1. Worth backing up just a bit to put this all into context:
      1. Jesus has been dead 6-7 weeks.
      2. Rumors that some have seen him alive, but no one claims to have seen him for several weeks now.
      3. He’s gone. And with him went all hope of God’s justice and God’s kingdom.
        1. Knowing how important this mission is, their best efforts are not going to be enough.
        2. They feel lost and helpless.
      4. Then, when all are together, he appears and speaks to them.
        • Hope restored! We can’t, but Jesus can! Knowing how important God’s mission through God’s chosen people is, they ask Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore Israel?”
  1. Sound familiar? Take us back to our glory years?
  1. Then he disappears again, so . . . they replace Judas.
  • Today!
    1. Doesn’t it feel like we’re living in Acts 1 sometimes?
      1. We know how important this work is.
      2. Excited and hopeful, then nothing happens.
      3. Jesus shows up, and then seems to disappear.
      4. We don’t exactly what to do, so we hunker down, form committees, and have meetings.
    2. But if today can feel like Acts 1, guess what’s next? Acts 2!
      1. Holy Spirit is on the move! Nothing will be like it was before! . . . Nothing.
      2. Further parallels in Acts 2 à
        1. The job of the disciples changed from keeping order to keeping up! They couldn’t see the Spirit, but they could see what the Spirit was doing.
          1. When we pray, “Wow! Holy Spirit, do that!” we’re praying that even if we can’t see the Spirit, that we could keep up with what the Spirit is doing.
        2. The responses to what the disciples were doing were mixed, at best. Bewildered, Amazed, Astonished, Perplexed, Sneered and made fun of them, Made false accusations. These were fellow Jews!
          1. When we pray, “Wow! Holy Spirit, do that!” we’re recognizing the responses will be mixed at best. These from fellow Christians—maybe even LCM members.
  • Peter pointed out from scripture (Joel) that all that was happening was not unusual for God. The Hebrew scriptures are full of images of fire and wind and Spirit moving through diverse people. Young/old, male/female, slave/free.
    1. When we pray, “Wow! Holy Spirit, do that!” we’re praying that we would be prepared for the Spirit to do anything—through anyone! What matters is that we know God, and can recognize God’s movement anywhere and anytime. God loves and God saves!
  1. It might feel like we’re living in Acts 1 sometimes, but we’re really living in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit is on the move—now! Nothing is like it was before. nothing. The Holy Spirit will surprise us, so hang on. It’s gonna get a little windy and a little firey. Ready or not, the Spirit’s got this.
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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Sermon


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